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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

10+ Things I Think... The Ph.D. process be like...

1. Oh yay you got accepted. Aren't you smart!?! Issa celebration bishes!

My announcement picture. Back when I was skinny and had all my edges.

2. Oh snap! I get a cohort. We're gonna be besties. We gonna braid each other's hair and do Sunday dinners.

3. First day jitters- Oh shoot I'm bout to be a doctor out here! *Inserts IG pictures of first day*

4. Day 26... Dawg... you want me to do what? And APA is your biggest enemy. You see a sea of red on your first writings because you need to “purchase the 6th edition manual”.

5. Oh, wait, such and such in my cohort/class disagrees with my ONE (petty) opinion on this??? Well, maybe we ain't cut from the same cloth. You distance yourself because you won’t have tough conversations.

6. Second-year: Awww so this is a HAZE-haze. You just gonna assign me every reading ever? At this point, you need wine. You may navigate feelings of quitting. You have already calculated your debt and are thinking- shiiiiii... well I midas whale finish.

7. “Who are these new people- y’all just letting anyone into the program!” At this point you are creating stories about how your cohort walked through fire and over the cascades to get through year one. Now all of a sudden they have “worked out some of the kinks”. You have resentment because these new ppl have a different experience than you.

8. You need your cohort. All of them. You make necessary apologies. You grow up- together. You put each other on. You even connect with the second cohort. You make introductions because you now understand these folks have pulled you up and out of the depth of anxiety, sadness, stress and bad relationships with men who only have three outfits.

9. End of the second year: You have approximately 73 edges left in your scalp, but you're considering a boo. After all, you need to feel special.

10. Publish or Perish: You feel such intense pressure not to take the summer off because you need to be publishing. You latch onto some academic doing work you think you want to do. "can I just please add the punctuation on your project?". You start putting together a CV. Right now it has all conferences and presentations with your cohort mates.

11. You get a job somewhere other than the school because the beans and rice you make as a Graduate Assistant (GA) ain’t cutting it in the big city. The HUSTLE is real.

12. Fall year 3: Ay yo… we gotta take comps. First off, don’t y’all know we know how to write already? Like all 5,708 papers we’ve had to write… come on son.

13. Your cohort mates become your friends and you can’t imagine life without them because Howard… I mean school ain’t no joke. Y’all are doing life and school. Somebody is getting pregnant. Someone found the love of their life. You found a new bottle of wine that makes you feel at home. I have some extra weight in my thighs and hips (n such).

14. People start to call you “doc” or “principal” because they don’t understand higher education- but dammit you accept it. 

15. Oh yeah, you get a committee. You gotta make sure everyone kinda gets along even though you know there’s light beef in the department. You gotta appeal to 4-5 different thoughts and you gotta defend why you chose this research. At least three times I said, “Shiiii… I mean… I’m just gone do it. Nike.” My committee would've torn me to shreds.

16. Draft one of that proposal snatches all your edges out. I was hella irked *defensive*. “I thought I was smart. I did so well in coursework- what you mean now my APA ain’t right? Why do we need APA anyway? Next thing you know they drop edition 7 on you. You could fight a bear because now you know you gotta go back and make changes (e.g. a comma now instead of a semi-colon). HOT AS FISH GREASE!

17. Proposal Defense- I have never lost my breath so many times. I was having a personal summer the whole time. I was nervous as Rachael Dolezal when someone pulls out a pressing comb. They have you present. They ask you questions. They kick you out of the room and tell you it was all worth it and that you get to continue on. “You win some and you lose some but you live to see another day.” (You passed).

18. IRB application… why the hell does it take an unfertilized egg, 49 hair strands, a schmear of blood and a promissory note. So this is where I am now… this is the next level. One day soon, I'll be the first person to graduate from this program. The next steps include IRB approval, interviews and then mo writing. Last- Final DEFENSE. I can feel the tears already. It's been such a hard yet rewarding journey. Lost too many, but I gained myself.


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